Author(s): Minette Walters
'When people are frightened, there's always a presumption of guilt if your face doesn't fit . . .'
In 1970 Howard Stamp, a retarded twenty-year-old, was convicted on disputed evidence - and a retracted confession - of brutally murdering his grandmother in her Dorset home. Less than three years later he was dead, driven to suicide by self-hatred and relentless bullying by other prisoners. A fate befitting a murderer, perhaps, but what if he were innocent?
More than a quarter of a century later, anthropologist and author Jonathan Hughes re-examines Stamp's case for a book on injustice. His research leads him to believe that Stamp was wrongly convicted. But is the previously forgotten story of one friendless young man compelling enough to make Hughes leave his ivory tower in order to champion justice for someone he never knew?
Under pressure from a local councillor, who lives on the street where Stamp's grandmother was killed, Hughes takes up his research again. George Gardener has been trying to bring Stamp's case to public attention for years and has unearthed new evidence that might exonerate him. But Gardener needs the young academic on board if it is to be used to maximum effect.
On the face of it, there is no similarity between the illiterate Stamp and the highly educated Hughes, but their lives resonate through their damaged childhoods and their mutual sense of exclusion. However, Jonathan must face his own demons if he's to take up arms on Stamp's behalf, and he lacks Gardener's courage to track down a dangerous killer still at large.
Since her award-winning debut with The Ice House, Minette Walters has cemented her reputation as one of the most exciting crime fiction writers today.